fastfashion-By Madeline Matcheski

“Fast fashion” isn’t a new concept. By definition, it is “clothing designs that move quickly from the catwalk to stores to take advantage of trends.” They are cheap, quickly manufactured, and out of stores and into dumps within weeks. 

Shein is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, fast fashion company in the world. With over 100,000 employees, and operating out of China, they are able to produce and send clothing worldwide efficiently and quickly. 

Shoppers have been alarmed to find pleas for help printed on their clothing. Everything from “Help” written on the packaging to cries stitched into tags. 

Shein isn’t unfamiliar with scandals. From property theft and tax evasion to offensive symbols on clothing and health and safety concerns, several claims have been made against the company in the past. While they claim that they are “a safe, fair, and happy work environment” among other generalizations, the company doesn’t divulge any information about the pay or rights of their workers. 

The company is known to produce 20x more clothes than other fast fashion companies like Zara, Old Navy and Gap, adding 500 products to its website every day. This means more work for employees and more waste. It’s not a coincidence that other brand employees aren’t calling for help through their clothing as Shein's do. 

Shein’s TikTok did make a response to these allegations by saying they were fake photos or that it was a poor choice of words printed on the tags. When comments asked for videos of the workplace to prove their working conditions weren’t abusive, they promised to share proof but have yet to keep their promise.

Although some doubt the legitimacy of these messages, this topic is bringing discussion on the negatives of fast fashion.

While some teens have chosen to boycott the company and raise awareness by posting photos and videos on the matter, others choose to turn the other way. Many have said they will continue to shop at the store, regardless of these warnings saying that if they do so they provide pay for the workers. Others explain that boycotting one company isn’t going to stop the real problem- fast fashion as a whole.

Although H&M does more to stay green, cutting out harmful chemicals from their products and recycling products, their human rights are constantly threatened. In 2018, it was revealed that the company failed to pay 850,000 garment workers a living wage. Female workers also report being subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

US Labor Department investigators found that workers at a Forever 21 factory in Los Angeles were paid as little as $4 per hour. The company also seems to feel no sympathy for their employees in their refusal to sign the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. Forever 21’s Social Responsibility page reads, “Forever 21 also shares the goal of eliminating child labour and forced labour,” yet there is no confirmation that they don’t still use these practices.

Fast fashion overall, has detrimental effects on the environment. The UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion reports that the fashion industry generates “around 20% of the world’s wastewater” and it emits 8-10% of total global carbon emissions.” 

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Child labour, long work hours and little pay are scandals that many companies could be hiding in their warehouses. With so many fashion brands supporting these malpractices it’s difficult to find ways around this. Buying more expensive clothing from trusted sources, purchasing local, sewing your own clothing and buying secondhand are all good alternatives. These problems must be targeted at the source and by supporting sustainable and local sources, we are one step closer to getting rid of the waste and saving people from coming to harm in these factories.

Fast Fashion Companies to Avoid
Sustainable Fashion Companies
The Truth About Shein


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